3 Ways for Truck Drivers to Report Unsafe Trucking Companies
Even though agencies like the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) are supposed to police the trucking industry and keep trucking companies honest, the reality is that these agencies don’t have the resources or personnel to monitor every company and catch every safety violation.
That’s why it’s so important for truck drivers to report regulatory violations and unsafe behavior they encounter on the job. Responsible and ethical truckers are the first line of defense in preventing negligent trucking companies from causing devastating truck wrecks that can injure ordinary drivers and even hurt or kill other truckers.
To help honest truckers keep our roads safe, we’ve put together this article to explain three options truck drivers can use to report unsafe trucking companies to the FMCSA and other federal agencies. Read on to learn more.
Option #1: Call the DOT
If you’ve seen or experienced safety, service, or discrimination issues with a truck or bus company, including your employer sending unsafe vehicles or drivers onto the road, you can call the toll-free reporting hotline maintained by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). You can reach this line at 1-888-DOT-SAFT (368-7238) from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday.
Calling this number will trigger an investigation into the trucking company and the incident in question. If you can provide written documentation or pictures of the violations or safety issues, including the dates and times of specific incidents, that will help the DOT’s investigation move faster.
Note that the DOT’s phone hotline only serves to launch an investigation into past events. If there is a safety emergency or an imminent hazard that could cause a crash or injury, you should call 911 right away.
If you’d rather not talk with someone on the phone, you can also use the FMCSA’s National Consumer Complaint Database (NCCDB) website to file a complaint online.
Option #2: File a Coercion Complaint With the FMCSA
Many truck drivers who break hours-of-service regulations and other safety rules do so only because of pressure from their employers. These truckers generally work at “bad actor” trucking companies where unsafe practices and regulatory violations are just part of the culture.
To address this problem, the FMCSA adopted a special rule in 2016 called the Coercion Rule. This rule says truck and bus companies, shippers, receivers, and other transportation companies can’t coerce drivers to violate certain regulations, including hours-of-service limits, commercial driver’s license (CDL) regulations, and drug and alcohol testing rules. The rule also allows drivers to report incidents of coercion with the FMCSA’s protection.
If you’re a truck driver and you’ve experienced coercion from your employer, you can file a coercion complaint with the FMCSA in writing and mail it to the FMCSA’s division office located in the state where you work.
The FMCSA asks that when you file your complaint, you include as much supporting information as you can, including text or email messages showing coercion attempts by your employer as well as your responses and the names of anyone who witnessed the coercion attempt. Note that you must file a complaint within 90 days of a coercion incident.
If you’d rather file a complaint online, you can also use the FMCSA’s NCCDB website. There’s a special section for truck drivers to file a complaint, which includes an option to report coercion.
Option #3: File a Whistleblower Complaint With OSHA
One reason why many truck drivers don’t report safety violations and negligent practices is because they fear their employer will fire them or otherwise punish them. However, a federal law called the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act contains a “whistleblower provision.” This law means your employer can’t retaliate against you for speaking up about or reporting safety violations. The OSH Act also charges the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) with enforcing this whistleblower provision.
Under the OSH Act, if your employer fired you or otherwise punished you for bringing up a safety concern, refusing to violate safety regulations, or reporting a violation, you can file a whistleblower complaint with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). After you file your complaint, OSHA will conduct a follow-up interview with you to gather more information and determine whether they need to launch an investigation. If they do, and if the investigation concludes that your employer wrongfully retaliated against you, OSHA will recommend remedies and have the case heard by a judge who can enforce these remedies.
If the state where you work has a state OSHA plan, you can file your complaint with both the state and federal OSHA offices. Otherwise, you’ll file your complaint with federal OSHA directly (click here to check whether you state has its own OSHA plan). You can file your whistleblower complaint with OSHA by contacting your local OSHA office, filing online, or calling OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742). Keep in mind that you need to file a whistleblower complaint within 30 days of your employer retaliating against you.
You can also visit OSHA’s whistleblower protection website to learn about your rights as a worker and the laws that exist to protect those rights.
Seattle Truck Law: Holding Negligent Truck Companies Accountable
Even the most careful and responsible truck drivers can suffer life-changing injuries when other truckers or trucking companies engage in negligent behavior. Injured truckers deserve respect, support, and fierce advocacy. The Seattle Truck Law team dedicates itself to providing the legal and emotional aid that injured drivers need.
If you’re a commercial truck driver and you’ve been injured in a trucking accident, Attorney Morgan Adams has years of experience fighting for hurt truckers and is ready to discuss your case and legal options right away at no risk to you. Call our offices today at 866-580-HURT (4878) or fill out the contact form on our website. We’ll get in touch to schedule your free consultation.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.